The Faerie Curse
Written for Finny on her birthday.
Once upon a time, there was a sick little prince. He had two healthy older brothers and three rather hale little sisters, but his mother despaired his ever being able to run and fight and frolic as they did.
Concerned, his parents called forth every soothsayer, healer and wise man in the land, hoping to find a cure for the boy's illness. And each and every one poked, prodded and treated the boy, all to no avail. Having not always been sick, the little boy fidgeted, growled, and was pretty much a royal pain to those who came to cure him. But, as time wore on, he grew used to being sick and learned how to thwart any and all attempts made by charlatans and healers alike to cure him.
However, like in all good long term scams, his parents eventually cottoned onto him and took appropriate measures.
"I don't see why you had to chain me to the bed. I promised I wouldn't go anywhere," the sick prince muttered sullenly, folding his arms over his chest.
"Yes, and if we had believed a word of it, Grover, you'd be running wild in the west wing, I'm sure," his mother, the queen returned archly as she led the next in the long line of mystical miracle men in. He of course, looked no better than any of the others. His clothes were appropriately exotic with flowing silks and colorful cottons. Around his neck was the dried skull of a small animal, and Grover made a face at the sight. Poor little creature, to be sacrificed for such an idiotic purpose.
His mother, smart woman that she was, had been right. One look at this man, and he would have hidden himself quite securely in the west wing.
"Ah, I can see the lad's problem," the man announced immediately, and Grover rolled his eyes. "He's been cursed by the Faerie Queen. Having spent some time amongst them, I can recognize the signs," the man told his mother knowingly.
Prince Grover, having heard a great many whoppers of a tale, recognized this for the lie it was. He bet his very life, sickness and all, that the mystic man had never spoken to, let alone lived amongst, the fae. Sharing his sentiment, the man who had trailed in after the mystic man softly snorted. He, of course, quickly covered it with a cough.
Him, the prince rather liked. And it was only because of the gangly unassuming young man that he sat still an endured the mystic man's poking and prodding and idiotic claims of a cure.
"It will take me a day and a night to concoct the prince's cure. It requires careful vigilance and many rare and expensive herbs, or I shall accidentally kill him instead of heal him."
Quite used to the song and dance, his mother escorted the mystic man out, but the prince cleverly contrived for the mystic man's servant to stay with him. Feeling quite pleased with himself he coughed gently and regarded the young man pitifully as his mother shut them in together.
"You can quit yer lying," the youth laughed instead of lavishing him with sympathy.
Put out, Grover scowled. "I do believe I'm feeling quite faint. And the feeling is leaving my toes. It would be best if you rubbed them."
"Now Majesty, I knows I don't look so sharp. And I'll admit my master's a bit of a quack. But he is right on one thing. You've been cursed by faeries, sure enough," the servant grinned back, more cheeky than any five servants his mother employed to torture him with useless tonics and mind numbingly boring exercises.
"Faeries? Please," he scoffed, crossing his arms over his chest and arching an aristocratic brow. "You're rather insolent. Your name so I can report it to the proper authorities?" The prince would, of course, not do any such thing. As unassuming as the servant was, he had pretty green eyes and didn't seem overcome with sorrow over Grover's condition.
"Ron," the servant grinned back, laughing as the prince attempted to sit up regally. "There's only one cure that'll beat a faerie curse. And drinkin' the awful swill that my master's making won't do it."
"Oh, and you're the expert?"
"More so than you, it seems." Ron grinned.
"Fine," the sick prince sulked, "then I order you to cure me."
Now, the servant was a little taken aback by the order and said as much. Curing a person of a faerie curse was not an easy business. It would require journeying to lands unknown to any map, fighting creatures that had yet to be recorded by any scribe, and over coming obstacles that did not present themselves until one found oneself mired in the midst of them.
But the prince was not deterred by any warning the servant had to give. Sick of spending his days abed and annoyed by a life where everyone simpered over him and he sat day in and out pondering his own death, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Picking a simple lock was mere child's play when faced with the opportunity to see more than the dull tapestries of the palace walls.
Leaving the palace walls did nothing to make the sick prince healthy. In fact, the opposite seemed to occur, and the servant tried many times to dissuade the stubborn prince and convince him to return home. Princely hands were not meant to grow calluses; the servant would exclaim when he caught sight of painful blisters.
Grover was not one to be dissuaded, however, and he stubbornly kept on along side Ron. The first week, he wheezed and he coughed and he stubbornly kept his seat on his horse, refusing Ron's help.
"You're being an idiot," Ron told him flat out, exasperated. "The mountains won't up and disappear if we takes longer to climb them."
That, however, was not the point. His mother and his father and his brothers and sisters all acted like Grover was incapable of managing anything more strenuous than hiding in the west wing. He wanted to prove that he could do more and that he wasn't simply a helpless, drooling invalid and he said as much.
"Well, of course you isn't," Ron snapped back at him, grabbing the reins of Grover's horse and forcefully pulling Grover off of the animal. "A helpless drooling idiot woulda drunk my master's swill and believed hisself cured."
Relaxing a little at that, Grover let Ron rub the ache out of his back and drank the hot tea that Ron made over their fire to help with his cough.
"Why are you being so nice to me?" Grover asked suspiciously.
Ron just laughed, tugged on Grover's princely blond hair, and told him to shut up and go to sleep. Grover made sure to grumble loudly and steal Ron's blanket—just to see if he could—but secretly, he was happy and he slept with a smile on his face and an arm flung over Ron's shoulder.
Continuing on their journey, the sick prince and the mystic's servant passed through the impenetrable mountains. They skirted around the bottomless pits and then braved the bog of misery with relative ease. The prince had grown feverish sometime between the pits and the bog, however, so he hadn't noticed much of a difference when they'd left the bog to travel through the singing hills. In fact, he hadn't protested at all when Ron insisted that they leave a horse behind and ride double the rest of the way.
"I'm feeling perfectly fine," Grover told Ron grumpily, shivering in spite of the fact that Ron's arms were wrapped around him in order to hold the reins.
"Yeah, it's just that you're burnin' up. I'm sure if you ignore it, it'll just up and go away." Ron shifted slightly, and Grover tried to keep himself upright by leaning back against Ron's shoulder. He'd tried to keep his distance. Servants and Princes did not fraternize. Well, they didn't necessarily go on quests together either, but in lieu of the circumstances, Grover rather thought his parents would make the exception. However, he doubted that they'd be too terribly keen to discover that Grover rather liked it when Ron put his arms around his middle.
And he imagined that they'd be rather horrified to learn that he spent a great many feverish dreams fantasizing about more than simply having Ron's arms around him. Still, this was the quest he'd chosen to go on with the partner he'd chosen to be with. If he was a prince that was fated to die, then best that he die having done something instead of nothing at all. And best to die having had someone special than to have no one at all.
"You've pretty hair," he told Ron in all seriousness as the singing hills became the annoying-won't-shut-up-and-slightly-off-key hills.
"Ah," Ron blushed before tugging on Grover's. "You too, but we needs to get past the dragon."
Having been sick most of his life, the prince displayed a great deal of aptitude in fighting while feverishly ill. Of course, the servant was also quick to point out that accidentally hitting a rotting tree with a sword and causing a heavy limb to break off and fall onto said dragon, knocking it unconscious, was also quite a bit of dumb luck.
"He was kind of a cute dragon."
"She," Ron corrected automatically.
"How would you know?"
"Er," Ron blushed again, and Grover couldn't help but grin.
"In fact, you know a lot about this kind of journey. Did you learn it from that con artist?" His words were coming out in wheezes, but if he'd lived most of his life with his sickness, he didn't see why a sore throat should bother him so much.
"Ah," Ron scratched his nose and then swung off the saddle before pulling Grover down too. "No. I didn't learns it from the likes of him, exactly."
"Where are we?" Grover looked about, but mostly tried not to look at Ron's pretty green eyes. Coughs wracked his body, but he didn't mind because Ron rubbed his aching back. Truth be told, he doubted that the journey would cure him. Why would it where nothing else had? Some people were merely fated to die young, and he supposed that he fell into that category. His brothers could have their kingdom and his sisters could be the apple of their parents' eye. He'd probably worried them all enough for one lifetime.
"It's a place I used to comes to play when I was younger lad," Ron mumbled before climbing up to make a campfire. Once the flames got going, Grover saw tall trees as big around as six grown men standing together, and he curled up shivering between two massive tree roots.
"It looks familiar," Grover mumbled as Ron crawled under the blanket and tucked Grover up against his chest. Truth to tell, Grover didn't feel well at all. He'd been sick before. He'd suffered through the fevers, the coughs, the chills and the aches. There'd been a short time when he'd been a child when he hadn't been sick, and it was the dim memory of those times that he judged these times on, he supposed.
Still, if he was dying, as everyone around him had been predicting direly for years, than he supposed it was best to die beside someone he actually liked. Possibly loved. Probably loved.
Tucking his head under the servant's chin, the prince fell asleep.
Now, a faerie forest is not the best place in the world for one to fall asleep. Particularly if one has been cursed by one of the fae. However, all the prince knew of faeries came from stories his nurse had told him about annoying little creatures with wings, or from his father who claimed that they were all evil little pricks intent on making one look the fool.
So, when the prince woke to find himself feeling rather hale and curled up against Ron in the space between tree roots with a rather beautiful, but quite irritated woman tapping her foot impatiently in front of him, faeries just wasn't the first thing that came to mind.
"So, this is where ye scampered off to," she screeched just a bit shrilly, startling Ron awake.
"Mum, not now," Ron grumbled, pulling Grover closer.
"Don't you mum me! I found the little troll for you, didn't I? And I told you, what was wrong with him, didn't I? And how do you repay me?"
"We were on our way home, Mum, you know that," Ron rubbed his eyes sleepily and Grover dared to take a closer look at the both. Oddly enough, the servant clothes that Ron had been wearing for the entirety of their journey had melted away into soft velvet and silks. Ones that were a fit for a king.
"What's going on?"
"You haven't told him." The woman's eyes got round, and Grover felt a little shiver work its way up his spine as she shook her head and he saw the tips of her pointed ears.
"You're fae," he cried.
"He's not slow, son, I'll give you that."
"Mum," Ron groaned.
"If she's fae, then so are you," Grover turned to stare at Ron, the shiver in his spine becoming a sinking feeling in his gut.
"Partly," Ron admitted, sheepishly.
"And that's how you knew I was cursed."
"Well, mostly you were cursed because Mum was a bit put out with me for wanting to follow you home," Ron mumbled to his hands as his face turned bright red.
"Follow me home? But I've been sick for ages."
"You don't remember?" the faerie lady chuckled. "Oh, my poor Oberon."
"Mum, knock it off," Ron growled, and Grover watched, fascinated as Ron's ears grew pointed, poking through his black hair. "Of course he doesn't remember."
"You, ah," Ron scratched his cheek self consciously, "kissed me once."
Grover blinked. Kissed Ron? Kissed kissed Ron? And he didn't remember it?!
Some of his disappointment must have shown on his face, because the faerie lady snickered rather unladylike into her palm at the sight.
"Mum! Can't you go bother my brothers or sisters instead?"
Grover found himself hauled up against Ron as the faerie lady sighed dramatically. "And here I went to all this trouble to go gallivanting off in disguise and pretend to make the nastiest potion known to the mortal realm for him to drink. And you! You just go haring off with him, leaving me to explain it to his parents."
"Good bye, Mum," Ron hinted. Strongly.
Laughingly, the faerie lady obliged, but not before pinching Grover's cheeks.
It was at that point that the sick prince woke. Back to his sickness, back to the forest and back to the less than solid embrace he was sharing with a snoring Ron. Attempting to get up, he swayed slightly. The dream had felt too real to just be a dream, and while he hadn't exactly read up on faeries, he could see the tips of Ron's pointy ears sticking up through his black hair, confirming his suspicions.
He might have made it to the horse they'd shared too, if it hadn't been for the dizziness he'd felt at standing. Next to Ron under the blankets, it hadn't felt too bad. But standing, and moving away from him felt like it was ripping him in twain. With a pained squeak, he collapsed less than gently to the ground.
"What're you doing?" Ron mumbled sleepily, reaching out and gently pulling Grover back to him.
"You're fae." Grover's hand trembled as he reached out and gently stroked one of Ron's ears.
"Caught that bit of dream, eh?" Ron tugged on Grover's hair, his green eyes full of apology.
"You're fae, and I'm not," he managed with a smile that wobbled halfway through. Dragons stayed with dragons and horses with horses. Mortals with mortals and the fairies, Grover could only imagine, stayed with fairies.
"Only partly," Ron laughed, hugging him close. "Besides, don't you know what a faerie curse is for?"
Grover frowned. "To kill stupid humans who dare to kiss the king of the fae?"
"Dummy, I was only a prince then, and you were only three," Ron scoffed. "Good thing too, since it takes the human body a while to acclimate itself to fae qualities."
"You mean the curse?"
"It's only a curse in so much as you weren't asked if you wanted to become one," Ron told him, suddenly looking uncertain of himself. "It's not easily reversed, but if that's what you really want," he trailed off, this time his smiling wobbling in the middle.
"Would I get to see my family if I were fae? Would they know me as they always have?"
"Would I still look the same?"
"Your ears will grow points, and you might feel a little strange until you get used to feeling fae, but yes."
"Would," Grover hesitated before blurting out, "would you still want me around if I were fae and not the helpless sickly prince who's been bullying you about?"
For a moment, Ron merely looked at him and blink. Then, he broke out in a broad grin. "Silly prince. Of course I'll still want you around. What do you think the whole point of turning you fae was for, unless it was so that I could keep you by my side?"
He tugged on Grover's hair, and with more certainty than he felt, Grover reached out to tug on his, pulling Ron closer.
When their noses were all but touching, the once sick prince tilted his head, and the servant turned faerie king moved forward to seal the deal with a kiss.